What should come first: traffic or money?

I took part in a radio interview yesterday. It was with the work at home radio network and had to do with blogging as career choice. My interviewer was most interested in how to earn money through blogging, especially through monetizing one’s own blogs. I told her what I told everyone else: when you’re just starting out, money should be your last concern.

I can’t tell you how many brand spanking new blogs I’ve come across that receive a couple of visitors a day, yet have big, flashing ads on either side. This tells me two things:

  • The ads are more important than the content.
  • This person is hoping to pull in some quick money.

So I ask you, how can you earn money with a blog receiving no traffic?

If you build it they will come

If you’re asking my opinion, and I’m assuming you are since you’re reading this, I’d say build up traffic. Don’t waste your efforts on ads; the money will come in time if that’s what you’re after. Instead write pages and pages of good, useful content. Offer your readers sound advice, humorous anecdotes and links to important resources. Once you have at least a dozen pages written, it’s time to bring in the traffic. You can do this in many ways. When you’re just starting out, I’d recommend:

Visiting other blogs and commenting. Don’t leave spammy “hey nice blog, check out my content” comments, instead, offer your point of view and that’s it. You’ll notice a spot to drop your link in the heading boxes, that’ll do just fine.

Visiting online forums. Just as with commenting, you don’t want to seem spammy. Offer a useful point of view and drop your link in the signature. If you offer a useful opinion, people will want to visit your blog.

Digg, Stumble Upon and other social networking and media sites. If you believe you wrote something brilliant, take advantage of the different social media sites. You may not make it to Digg’s first page, but there might be a person or two interested in reading what you have to say.

Offering up your services as a guest blogger. A great way to drive traffic is by guest blogging on someone else’s blog. Trust me, I know. A couple of months back, I was a guest blogger for Darren Rowse and traffic to all my blogs soared.

Installing a stat tracker. I use Site Meter and Google Analytics (and of course, PMetrics). Stat trackers are a great way to tell why people come to your blog. You’ll learn which topics and keywords are most popular, giving you an idea of what type of content to write. That isn’t to say you should revolve your blog around keywords and search terms. Nothing turns me off more than a blog filled with obvious keywords.

Writing lots of content. The more great content you write, the more pages will be indexed by Google and other search engines and the more people will visit your blog.

Now, I hate to harp on this, but I’ll say it again. All this takes time. It takes time to achieve Google and Alexa rankings, it takes time for people to find your blog and it takes time to achieve the amount of traffic likely to enable you to earn a decent income from your blog. In fact, I’ll venture to say not everyone can expect to earn a revenue check each month.

If you truly want to make money blogging, you’re going to have to work hard to bring in the masses. Once the traffic is flowing, once you have a great community built up, once your name is out there, then, and only then, should you worry about the ads.

6 thoughts on “What should come first: traffic or money?

  1. If you are selling something at your site, your own product for example e-book or CDs,even low traffic can give money by selling of product. If your web is only using Adsense, it may be possible that even high traffic will not convert into money.

  2. Thanks, I didn’t know site meter is simple to use. I always thought that site meter is even more advance then analytic. Anyway, I”m being thinking to find a better stat tracker that can help me work on my web conversion and long tail traffic.

  3. I like Site Meter because it’s simple. Since I write about blogging for beginners, I find Site Meter to be the easiest choice for newbies. You can see what you’re looking for at a glance, with no deep analysis.

  4. Hi Debng, great post! I just wondering why you need to install sitemeter and pmetric? I’m being using analytic, and being thinking to try sitemeter. Can you please tell me what is the advantage to have sitemeter. I know they now have free download, do you need to pay for the following years? is it worth it to install couple of stat tracker? Thanks.

  5. For people that want to be shown the money (I’m one), they need to build a blogging business plan. If they are in it for a hobby, then don’t worry about it. The rest of my comment is for the people that aspire to be compensated as amateur bloggers or eventually go pro.

    Its silly to build up any business without a plan to make money. That is especially true of blogging.

    A person can invest a serious amount of time into a blog or multiple blog. They need to develop a business plan that values their time and contribution, that tracks actual costs and actual revenues.

    They need to plan for each of the revenue tools that can be used to generate income for their business of blogging. If they fail to do this, there is a better than average chance that their blogging business will fail. One symptom of this in the hobby blogging world is the blog that fades. In the business blogging world this would be more akin to a blog layoff or an idle asset.

    Based on a business plan a person can then develop a sense of not only when it might be appropriate but also when its a necessity. At the end of the day they need to balance these things out. Every blog will have a different sweet spot, of when its optimal to bring in the first paycheck on a blog. A blogger with a wide network of friends and family (just like in any business) might be able to rapidly and quickly leverage that network to start earning from day one.

    Others that are pursuing an esoteric niche topic may take longer to attract their core audience.

    But if they build a plan, including marketing and more, they will be able to see better what challenges they will face and where the decision points to act might be.

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